Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Designing for an iPad screen

I've been working a lot in recent weeks with the upcoming Adobe Digital Publishing platform for publishing content from InDesign to the iPad. I'll certainly be talking more about this in future blog posts as the solution becomes public. (In the meantime, see the Adobe Digital Publishing Blog for more information on what some "bleeding edge" customers are doing with it.)

If you're designing a document or image that is ultimately going to be viewed on the iPad, either with the Adobe Digital Publishing platform, a PDF reader, or some other method, how large should you create the document or image, and how do you preview your results?

The iPad screen is 9.7" diagonal, displaying 1024 x 768 pixels. This works out to 132 pixels per inch. So all you need to do is create a 1024 x 768 pixel image or page in Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign. If you're using an older version of Illustrator or InDesign that doesn't support measuring in pixels, use points instead, and it will work out perfectly.

How can you preview what your file will look like without moving it to an actual iPad? If you're lucky enough to have a newer 15" Apple MacBook Pro with the optional High Resolution (1680 x 1050 pixel) display option, or a newer 17" Apple MacBook Pro with the standard High Resolution (1920 x 1200 pixel) display, you're in luck. These displays run at almost exactly the same resolution as the iPad. This means that you can create an image or layout in Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign, and view it at 100% size on either of these displays to get a preview that is very, very close to how it will display on an iPad!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

You gotta try Dropbox!

If you haven't tried Dropbox yet, you're in for a treat!

Dropbox is just one of many "cloud-based" or hosted storage services. I've tried many of these, but Dropbox is the slickest by far. What Dropbox does extremely well is "file-syncing" between multiple computers. You just sign up for a Dropbox account and install the Dropbox application on as many computers as you wish. From then on, any files that you save in your local Dropbox folder automatically upload to the Dropbox online storage service and then download automatically to the Dropbox folder on any other computers using your Dropbox account. This all happens quietly in the background. Really slick!

Did I mention Dropbox is FREE? An account with 2GB of online storage is free, and you can purchase up to 100GB more. In addition, you can increase your free storage space by 250mb for every friend that you refer to Dropbox.

Dropbox also is great for:

Online backup: Any time that a file is changed or deleted, Dropbox archives a "version" of the file, so you can undelete a file or roll back to a previous version at any time.

Shared folders: You can create special "shared folders" that allow you to collaborate on files with other Dropbox users.

File Sharing with non-Dropbox users: Need to send someone a large file that is too large to email? Just throw the file in your Dropbox "Public" folder, right-click or control-click on the file, and choose Dropbox > Copy Public Link. Then paste the link into an email. Done.

Web access to files: All of your Dropbox files can be accessed from any computer, anywhere through All you need is your Dropbox login.

Mobile file access: There are Dropbox apps for iPhone, iPad and Android so you can access your files on the go. In addition, certain mobile apps such as the awesome GoodReader integrate directly with Dropbox files.

InDesign-InCopy workflow: Dropbox can be used as a virtual server for a seamless InDesign-InCopy workflow.

I've been using Dropbox for a while now on a combination of Macs, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 computers, and just love it.

Full disclosure: If you follow the links to Dropbox from this blog and create a Dropbox account, I'll receive 250mb of bonus free storage space...but so will you.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Don't miss my posts on InDesignSecrets

Don't overlook my posts over at InDesignSecrets. I try to post InDesign tips over there a couple of times a month, in addition to my posts here.

I just put up a post about a hidden method for including special characters with Autocorrect. Check it out!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Interactive design tutorials and white paper

I've been spending a lot of time lately helping "print" designers get up to speed on designing interactive projects. A few months ago Adobe hired me to create some training resources about interaction design. The result is four free resources that can be found on (click on the "interactive" tab on this page.

All these resources are intended to equip designers with what they need to know to move into interaction design. The resources include:

A comprehensive 17 page white paper titled Interaction design: Designing for interactivity on screens: a primer for print designers (pdf)

Three "Interaction 101" video tutorials on Adobe TV. Each 10-15 minute video covers a single interactive workflow, and includes source files so you can follow along:

Interaction 101: Create an Interactive Guide with InDesign CS5
How to use InDesign CS5 to create an interactive document for the Web.
(related source files)

Interaction 101: Create a simple web application with Flash Catalyst CS5
How to use Illustrator CS5 and Flash Catalyst CS5 to create a web application.
(related source files)

Interaction 101: Create a simple banner ad with Flash Professional CS5
How to use Photoshop CS5 and Flash Professional CS5 to create a web banner ad.
(related source files)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Two essential books for advanced InDesign users

If you do any InDesign scripting (or want to learn), or create any InDesign GREP searches (or want to learn), you need these eBooks by Peter Kahrel. If it were possible for eBooks to become "dog-eared", mine would be. I refer to one or both of these books almost every week.

Scripting InDesign CS3/4 with JavaScript is an 80-page concise tutorial on how to automate InDesign with JavaScript. Through clear explanation and lots of examples, Peter explains how to write and edit JavaScript for use in InDesign, and provides a good overview of the InDesign Document Object Model.

GREP in InDesign CS3/CS4 is a 65-page tutorial and reference guide for how to do complex, powerful searches in InDesign using GREP.

Despite the titles of these guides, Peter has recently updated both of them to cover InDesign CS5, as well as earlier versions. These are the only two published guides that I know of that cover these two subjects...I'm glad that Peter has done such a great job.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Create Guilloche patterns in Illustrator

Last March I wrote about some resources for obtaining "Guilloche" patterns, which are sometimes used for certificate and award borders and backgrounds. Now Rufus Deuchler has put a nice tutorial on his blog that describes an easy way to create Guilloche patterns in Illustrator.

The Artlandia Symmetry Works plugin for Illustrator will help create Guilloche patterns.

Also, see this cool Flash-driven Guilloche Pattern Generator.